Katy Bourne: Why would I want to be an MP?

I was labelled a raunchy tap dancer. The truth is more prosaic

Share
Related Topics

"How can a national newspaper call you a 'Cutie' at 45? You're my mum!" asked my highly amused 22-year-old son last weekend. He was, of course, referring to the fact that I had been shortlisted for interview at a safe Conservative parliamentary seat in Suffolk, where a row had supposedly broken out among members of the association concerning the candidate selection process.

I had unfortunately been caught in the media crossfire as one of six finalists, none of whom were "local" to the area. The ensuing story that unfolded labelled me as a raunchy tap dancer. The reality is more prosaic. I have built a (now large) business, teaching thousands of 16-80 year olds to dance. One can imagine how the grocer's daughter from Grantham would have reacted to the media's implication that small business owners were an insignificance to the nation.

I have spent the last 20 years raising a family as well as running a business. As anyone in a similar position will tell you, setting up a business from scratch, working long hours and fitting this around a growing family is never easy. But it is a process taking place in thousands of homes in constituencies across the country, because it's usually from the front room of a house that your first business venture begins.

Two questions regularly put to me before I was shortlisted were, first, why somebody running a business would want to be an MP; and, second, what right a non-local has to be an MP. Let me explain.

On the first: our country is facing enormous challenges. We need jobs and the right training for our young people, but we also need politicians from all walks of life, with a whole range of experiences and skills. I want to use the experience I have, and the commercial skills I have developed over the years, to make a real difference. And I want to encourage more women to come forward and contribute to public life too. On the second: some candidates will be local before they are selected for their seat; some will be local after. What matters more than whether or not they've grown up in the area where they are standing is a commitment to the constituency and the people they would serve.

The days before any final selection is always a busy time for candidates. Once we are chosen by a panel of local party members, we are then encouraged to engage with as many people in the constituency as possible, to invite them along to the final so that they can hear us answer questions and then vote for their favourite. It is a new, innovative method of selecting, brought in by David Cameron, and is an opportunity for anyone living in the constituency who is registered on the electoral roll to participate in the process.

In the run up to this selection, the councillors I met from both rural Suffolk and urban Ipswich were all extremely supportive and I experienced no hostility whatsoever – just a curiosity to find out more about me and what I could offer to the area if selected. On the night of the count, we were well looked after and the only amusing moment arose when it transpired that the lady who was looking after us was the same lady my photo had been juxtaposed against in the media that week. We both agreed that, given our ages, being called "cute" was quite an achievement.

Suffolk chose a great candidate, but it wasn't me this time. I am now busy applying to another seat and so the process begins all over again. The life of a candidate is never dull and with an impending election it can only get busier.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron has reiterated his pre-election promise to radically improve the NHS  

How can we save the NHS? Rediscover the stiff upper lip

Jeremy Laurance
 

Thanks to Harriet Harman, Labour is holding its own against the Tory legislative assault

Isabel Hardman
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor